Global environmental challenges
Feinstein wants her desert and solar, too
California Senator Dianne Feinstein is fuming over a federal plan to use some Mojave desert lands to develop solar power plants and wind farms.
In a letter to Dept. of the InteriorSecretary Ken Salazar, Feinstein said she planned to introduce legislation that would protect the former railroad lands, thereby preventing the federal government from leasing them to renewable energy project developers. The 600,000 acres in question were acquired by and donated to the government’s Bureau of Land Management between 1999 and 2004 for the purpose of conservation.
“I have been informed that the BLM now considers these areas open for all types of use except mining. This is unacceptable!” Feinstein wrote in a March 3 letter made public last week.
Feinstein, a supporter of renewable energy, said many of the desert lands being considered for solar and wind development are unsuitable.
“It is critical that these projects move forward on public and private lands well suited for that purpose,” Feinstein wrote. “Unfortunately, many of the sites now being considered for leases are completely inappropriate and will lead to the wholesale destruction of some of the most pristine areas in the desert.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. Interior Department said it would identify zones on public lands where the department can act rapidly to create large-scale production of solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy. Building and consuming more clean, renewable energy is a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s energy and economic policies.